Regulators' reviews of the two major insurance mergers continue to be filled with twists and turns as the processes near their projected conclusion in the second half of the year.
- On Friday, Aetna and Humana extended their merger deadline six months to Dec. 31, 2016, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. A corporate spokesperson for Humana told the Courier-Journal that the extension was “routine and expected,” adding that the merger is on pace to be finalized in the second half of the year. Earlier this month, Aetna sold $13 billion worth of bonds in preparation for its acqusition of Humana.
- Aetna has also requested that a circuit court judge review a preliminary order from the Missouri Department of Insurance that would block the sale of Aetna plans in that state should it successfully merge with Humana, according to the St. Louis Dispatch. David Balto, a former attorney with the antitrust division of the DOJ, told the newspaper the legal challenge was a stalling tactic by Aetna and that the insurer still needs to find a solution to the anti-competition concerns raised by state regulators.
- A new analysis produced for Reuters indicates Anthem’s purchase of Cigna would mean higher costs for employer-sponsored health plans. Although executives have said the merger will increase choice and affordability and maintain competition between smaller insurers and national carriers, the analysis conducted by Aon Hewitt found that already, 80 percent of large employers purchase benefits from just one or two insurers. Industry experts told the news outlet that the analysis struck a blow to a deal that is already rife with behind-the-scenes bickering between company leaders.
Last week, seven Democratic senators came out against both mergers, citing concerns about increasing healthcare costs for both consumers and businesses. Federal regulators also recently expressed concerns about the Anthem-Cigna deal, and Bloomberg reports that representatives from the two companies were set to meet again Friday with antitrust officials from the Justice Department.